Snow camp Saas Fee

5th July 2010, by Chris Gill

Allalin and glacier

Allalin and glacier

Continuing our closer look at summer ski resorts, performance camps and other summer events … Saas Fee is an excellent place to escape to in July and August, and with the possibility of visiting Switzerland’s other main summer slopes in Zermatt.

When?

The glacier slopes below the Allalin reopened on 3 July. It’s a popular training ground for the world’s top racing teams, who’ll usually be riding the early morning funicular with you.

What’s available?

The slopes offer up to 20km of runs, in two main areas of the mountain; these are best suited to confident skiers – access and the draglifts can be tricky. There is also a terrain park. The park has two lines of kickers, boxes, jumps and a half-pipe. In good conditions, skiing takes place until around 1-2pm.

Tuition camps

The Eskimo school operates classes during the summer, but the glacier is probably better known for its performance clinics with ski guru Warren Smith. Warren’s Academy courses take place nearly every week until 11 September. The 5-day courses include half-board accommodation at the hotel Du Glacier, tuition on the glacier and video analysis; but not travel to the resort.

Zoom Camps: should you wish to learn to race, become expert at freestyle or advanced skiers wishing to improve their technique, these courses could help. You can book tuition only, for up to six weeks, or a full package including accommodation. There is more detail on prices on the Saas Fee website.

The British Freestyle Camps make good use of the Saas terrain park. These take place every week in July, the last one being 31 July-7 August. The idea of these camps is to provide training in park skills to the top levels, and they accept levels from intermediate. But they also include mogul, steeps and skiercross classes. Included in the line-up of coaches are Warren Smith and Pat Sharples.

Main events

The pick of summer snow events in Saas Fee is the Ride, a freestyle event that attracts many of the top riders to the park and pipe. A time to catch up on the après-ski too. In 2010 the action takes place from 17 July.

Ready to Ride

www.saasfeeride.com

Lift passes

In 2010 packages bought to participating hotels include free use of all the summer lifts, as well as the post bus around the valley (great for afternoon hikes to Saas Almagell and Saas Grund). It also includes entrance to the ice caves.

Regular day passes cost from SF66 for an adult return to the Allalin. Multi-day passes are available, covering all the lifts in the resort or the whole valley.

Something different

This is a real mountain resort in summer, with hiking, biking, via ferrata (there’s a terrific route up the Mittaghorn, overlooking Plattjen), guided summit bagging (the resort is surrounded by some of the most accessible 4000m peaks), and more sedate activities.

Fab day in the hills

Well, not exactly hills … a big 3145m peak: the Mittaghorn rises high above Saas Fee and provided us with a splendid, airy day out. The via ferrata is aimed at intermediate level scramblers (not best tried as your first attempt at this sport), and climbs along the exposed east ridge of the mountain. It gives tremendous views across the resort, its glacier slopes and 4000m peaks. Carrying, and knowing how to use, a full ferrata kit is essential – as is a helmet. There are very exposed sections to negotiate, pulling up metal-rung ladders.

You take the gondola to the mid-station at Morenia, then hike across narrow trails and boulders to the start of the route. A few scrambly sections gets you up on the ridge, then it’s time to clip in to the metal wires and haul yourself up the mountain. The very top section is a bit vertigo-inducing as you cling precariously to a few metal bars (and hoping they are secure!), before stepping out onto the summit. Terrific.

Of course, what goes up has to get down … and there is an easier trail off the back of the mountain, steep and narrow at first as it winds it way down to Plattjen (good hut stop!). It’s then you realise what a long walk down you have ahead of you, to return to Saas. This is a serious day out for adventurous people, but it’s a splendid one. Be aware of the weather forecast though – electrical storms are common in summer; you don’t want to be trying this route too late in the day, or if storms are predicted.

Don’t look down … but if you do, Saas Fee is a pleasant view in the valley.



Back to features

Recent features

Popular features


Share |